Library funding cut by £50m


The long-term sustainability of council-run libraries across England, Scotland and Wales has been drawn further into question as budgets were cut by another £50m over the last year, figures released by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) today reveal.

CIPFA’s annual library survey also shows that the number of people using libraries across the country continues to fall. However, a surge in the number of library volunteers suggests that these services are still valued community assets.  

Key findings include:

  • Number of libraries fell by 2.6% in one year, from 4,023 (2013-14) to 3,917 (2014-15)
  • Total visits dropped 3.9%, from 276m (2013-14) to 265m (2014-15)
  • Total expenditure for UK library services fell by £50m, from £0.99bn (2013-14) to £0.94bn (2014-15)
  • FTE paid library staff fell by 3.8%, although volunteer numbers rose by 18.7%.

Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive of CIPFA, said: “Once more, our annual library survey makes for grim reading. Cost cutting measures continue to hit unprotected services hard and fewer people are using public libraries. Yet there is some hope. Volunteer numbers have nearly doubled over the past five years. Tens of thousands of people are now giving their time to make sure these precious resources survive.”

The results of the survey contribute to a trend of steady decline since 2010. Gross expenditure has been reduced by more than £180m (16%) over the course of the last Parliament. Over the same period, visits have fallen by 13.6%.

The CIPFA survey also collect data for regional library use. The top five most visited libraries across England, Scotland and Wales over the last year were:

  • Central Manchester, Manchester: 1,332,999 visits
  • Norfolk & Norwich Millennium, Norfolk: 1,173,809 visits
  • Wembley, Brent: 1,169,735 visits
  • Woolwich, Greenwich: 1,097,641 visits
  • Jubilee Brighton, Brighton & Hove: 952,083 visits

In terms of book or other loans, the top five libraries over the last year were:

  • Norfolk & Norwich Millennium, Norfolk: 1,012,877
  • The Hive Worcester, Worcestershire: 899,383
  • Oxford Central, Oxfordshire: 582,581
  • Llanelli, Carmarthenshire: 575,557
  • Cambridge Central, Cambridgeshire: 530,600 


For media enquiries contact the CIPFA press office on T: 020 7543 5600 or E:

Notes to Editors:

* Excluding Northern Ireland

** As in previous years the number of library service points excludes libraries open for less than 10 hours a week

Headline figures from the latest CIPFA library statistics are available on request and will be available from from Wednesday 9 December, with the full dataset available to CIPFA stats subscribers.